|The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors
2 Years After Loss, Arizona Considers Marriage Amendment Again
BY MICHAEL FOUST ©2008 Baptist Press
wo years after Arizona became the first state to defeat a constitutional marriage amendment on the ballot, voters there will get another chance Nov. 4 to pass such a proposal, and supporters are far more confident this go-round.
The 2006 amendment lost 52-48 percent, making Arizona the first and only state thus far--27 states have passed them--to turn down an amendment protecting the natural definition of marriage. The defeat left pro-family leaders statewide and nationwide wondering what happened. Their conclusion? The debate--despite attempts by supporters -- focused not on "gay marriage" but on side issues: Opponents ran a television ad claiming the amendment would limit Social Security income for seniors and take away medical insurance of the children of domestic partners. The tactic worked, with 46 percent of those ages 60 and over -- normally a strong supporter of marriage amendments -- voting against the proposal. Supporters tried to convince the public that the amendment simply was designed to ban "gay marriage" and same-sex civil unions, but failed.
This time, the amendment--and the debate on it--is much simpler. Proposition 102, as it is called, seeks only to protect the natural definition of marriage, and leaves the debate over civil unions for another day.
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Report Calls U.S. Church Giving `Lukewarm'
Americans spent nearly twice as much on first-day sales of the video game "Grand Theft Auto IV" as would be needed by the Southern Baptist Convention to share the gospel with all the world's "unreached people groups" by 2010, according to a new report on church giving.
The annual report, by the Illinois-based group empty tomb inc., found a general downward trend in church member giving through 2006, which led authors to propose a "global triage to treat what ails the church."
They said focusing on reaching new "people groups" and preventing child deaths around the world would help U.S. churches "sort out their priorities" to use what funds they do have more efficiently.
"It's difficult to avoid the label of `lukewarm' when analyzing the church's level of response to Jesus' Great Commandment and Great Commission," said John Ronsvalle, who co-authored the study with his wife, Sylvia.
Even Southern Baptists, a group highlighted as a "denomination that takes this religious task seriously," have not launched an aggressive campaign to fund the estimated additional 2,800 missionaries that would be needed to "engage" unreached groups by 2010.
Empty tomb estimated it would cost about $11 per Southern Baptist to fund those extra missionaries; instead, the denomination's 2008 goal of $170 million to support existing missionaries is the equivalent of asking each Southern Baptist to donate just 31 cents more than last year. By contrast, Americans spent $310 million in first-day sales for
"Grand Theft Auto IV."
"The total portion of per capita income given to churches in 2006 was lower (in 2006) than in the worst year of the Great Depression," the authors found.
The report estimates that for only $26 a year per evangelical, U.S. evangelicals as a whole could fund $544 million in efforts through evangelical-affiliated denominations and other missions agencies.
The report estimated that it would cost each U.S. church member just 8 cents a day to help reach the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal of cutting infant mortality by two-thirds by 2015.
Supreme Court Declines to Act on Circumcision Fight
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to intervene in the fight between a father who wants to circumcise his 13-year-old son against the wishes of the boy's mother.
After the high court declined on October 6 to consider the case, the fight is headed back to a judge in Medford, Oregon.
James Boldt, who converted to Judaism, says his son wants to undergo the procedure for religious reasons. The boy's mother, Lia Boldt, said her son is afraid to tell his father that he doesn't want to be circumcised.
A trial judge sided with the father, who has custody. But the Oregon Supreme Court in January said the boy's wishes needed to be determined. James Boldt, who says he has a constitutional right to raise his child in his religion, attempted to get the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. No court date has been set for lower court to consider the case.